The Crown Jewel


This manuscript of Durrat al-tāj (The crown jewel) is a Shiite prayer book, consisting of prayers to be said when making a visitation to the tomb of Caliph ʻAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (circa 601−61). ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib is one of the most revered religious and holy figures of Islam. His honorary name, Amīr al-Mu‘minīn, translates from Persian as the “prince of the believers.” Written works by ‘Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib and sayings attributed to him are sacred to the Shiite faithful, particularly among Persian speakers. The manuscript was probably written in Iran, possibly in the 17th century. The paper is of a thick, cream-colored polished Middle Eastern style, without distinctive chain or laid lines, and no watermark. The text is written in black ink in naskhī script, nine lines on each page, with gold decorations between lines. The borders of the written area are lined with black ink, with profuse decoration outside of the written area. The text is rubricated. The title was added by a later hand. There is no colophon. The binding is referred to as chahargusheh, meaning a frame binding made around a Kashmiri shawl dating from the first half of the 1700s (circa 1740s).

Last updated: September 5, 2014